São Paulo is known for having the top restaurants in the country and for serving the very best in gourmet foods from all over the world. But São Paulo residents are also known to rely on street food in their day-to-day lifestyle. Here is a list of the most popular street food items in the city to try on your next trip to Brazil.
The deep-fried puff pastry is a must-try for anyone visiting one of the innumerable fruit and vegetable markets scattered throughout the city. The pastel stand is usually at one of the ends of the market so that customers stop by before starting their shopping or after they have ended it. The pastry’s fillings may vary from cheese, pepperoni, ham and pizza toppings, but what most find interesting is the amount of air that is actually inside the large pastry.
A traditional pastry from the state of Bahia, the acarajé has become a city favourite due to the high number of migrants from that Northeastern state. Made with black-eyed peas and fried in palm oil the acarajé is then opened and stuffed with seafood or chicken. Making them at home is almost always a failure, for they say that to make a good acarajé you must be a Bahia native.
Pão de Queijo
Although they come from the state of Minas Gerais, the pão de queijo, or baked cheese puffs are a Brazilian institution. You’d be hard pressed not to find these small balls in any bakery, café, delicatessen or bar you enter in São Paulo.
The hot dogs served in São Paulo are no ordinary dogs – they are a meal in itself. With mayo, cheese, and other assorted condiments – and topped off with, yes, mashed potatoes – it is common to see an outsider surprised as they receive one of these here in the city.
Warm or cold, with cheese or with vinaigrette, or even by itself the Mortadella (Bologna) sandwich is a must for anyone visiting one of the stands in the São Paulo Municipal Market. The sandwich is an institution in the city, and you’d be hard to find someone who does not eat it on a regular basis.
The tiny, deep purple fruit from the Northern region of Brazil first became popular with sports aficionados, who ate the fruit blended with banana and guarana syrup, due to its high protein and vitamin properties. In reality, the açai ‘paste’ in the North accompanies the main meal, along with beans and rice. Here in São Paulo – as in most of the Southeast – açai has become a dessert, served sometimes in the form of ice cream or with a fruit topping.
Tapioca is one of the most versatile street foods found in São Paulo today. A tiny disk made of manioc flour pressed together can be stuffed with either savoury fillings such as ham, eggs and cheese, or sweet fillings to create a dessert with the likes of shredded coconut, bananas and chocolate or condensed milk syrup on top.
With the esfiha, city residents will have an eternal debt to pay to the Middle Eastern colony who settled in São Paulo. In addition to being delicious, the esfiha, a breaded pastry, is a relatively simple food to make, cheap and stuffed with a variety of fillings. Unlike the traditional Middle Eastern pastry, which is filled only with meat, Brazilian-style esfihas may be stuffed with cheese, chicken, or vegetables.
Next to the pão de queijo, coxinhas are the absolute favourite street food for São Paulo residents. The fried breaded pastry – served in the shape of a tear-drop – is filled with chicken and cheese, or just chicken.
Originally created in Spain, Churros today are a favourite sweet pastry in most of Latin America, and São Paulo is no exception. Throughout the city you’ll see small churros stands on corners, parks, subway entrances and next to schools. São Paulo churros, however, are in their majority either filled with crème or condensed milk syrup and sprinkled with sugar.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.